Updated: Sep 30, 2018
A few months ago, I was feeling - well - “buzzy.” Is that a word?
It was a different kind of feeling than my normal overly-caffeinated shakiness (Thanks Muddy Waters!).
My little anxious mind was sitting at it’s big oak desk, stroking it’s evil black cat, slowly turning around like the super villain it is, and in its best imitation of Heath Ledger's ‘Joker’, it proclaimed, “Here... we... go!!!”, and proceeded to try and screw with me.
Not so fast.
I knew what I had to do.
It was time for a mental check-in.
Nothing was really bothering me.
Nothing was stressing me out.
So, what the hell was up?
Then, it hit me.
My meditation practice had been essentially nonexistent.
I had gone from taking an intentional break two to three times a day, to once a day, to once a week, to nothing, and for someone continuously working to manage anxiety, this lack of an intentional pause during the day was really starting to screw with me.
I buckled down and I recommitted to my meditation practice. I wish I could say it was like riding a bike, but my monkey mind was all sorts of active, meaning It took some retraining to get it back to a place of calm - or at the least, some sense of order.
REMINDERS FOR RESTARTING MY PRACTICE. I needed to remind myself of the basics that have made meditation so effective in the past to start the process of taking a step towards finding calmness.
Practice makes habit.
Meditation can take place anywhere. Some of my favorite places to take a moment are in my car (while it’s parked), at my desk before I work on any projects, and in bed (right before sleeping for the night).
Always go back to the breath. When my mind wanders to my to-do list or irrational worries, without judgment I go back to my breath to regain focus.
Start with short meditations. I find taking frequent, shorter breaks are more effective for my mind. I take a moment in the morning, one - maybe two - check-ins during the work day, and one in the evening as a time to shut down for the day. When I build from that base, I can sit longer when I’m intentionally sitting and catch my monkey mind quicker when I’m doing my everyday activities.
Use an app. The Calm app has been an effective tool for when I meditate; especially in the evenings. There’s a free version of this app available, but the paid version is robust and very much worth the investment.
Set a reminder. Seriously, actually pause when the alarm goes off. Even if it’s only for two minutes - it’s an incredibly effective way to reset and refocus. I’ve caught myself not breathing if I’m focused intently on a project. Nothing should be more important that AIR. So, use that alarm as a positive trigger to remember to breathe.
CONSISTENCY Just like exercise, meditation is more effective within a consistent practice. Over the past months, I’ve realized that, when I’m consistent for several days in a row, I truly feel calmer and my awareness of my breath (or lack thereof) is present.
I’m regularly reminding myself that meditation is a practice. A practice of letting my thoughts flow through my subconscious without getting sucked into their ‘story’ or being frustrated with myself for not being able to just sit for a moment.
MAINTAINING THE PRACTICE
The most important lesson I’ve learned through meditation is that it’s okay if I miss a day.
There have been evenings that I’ve simply fallen asleep without going through a mindful moment to wrap up a day.
And you know what? That’s absolutely fine.
The same is true for workouts. I’m not going to completely collapse because I skipped exercising for a day, or even two, when life finds itself in the way.
BUT, if I continuously skip meditation practice and/or working out, it would have an adverse effect on so many other areas of my life - as these practices are very much tied to both physical and mental health.
If you need a meditation buddy or want to talk about your monkey mind, get in touch with me.
If you’re looking for an external source of accountability on your fitness journey, let’s chat.